28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
1901 ASV Translation:
28 And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
There are no textual variations between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26.
I. The word translated "they did not like" or "they refused" is an interesting term, not only for its meaning, but also because it is part of a word play in this verse. The verb is directly linked to the adjective translated "reprobate" as it modifies the "mind" to which God delivered them.
A. The word play is crucial because it has been Paul's intent throughout this section to declare that God has responded to man's rejection with an equal reaction. Man rejected the "incorruptible", so God turn him over to the "corruptible"; man rejected the Truth, so God turned him over to "the lie"; and, now, man "disapproves" God, so God turns him over to a "disapproved" mind.
B. The meaning is also crucial because it explains the condition of the human "mind" since that fateful choice to reject the incorruptible Truth.
1. The word translated "they did not like" or "they refused" is actually a word that involves a process in which a person or thing is subjected to rather intense examination with the question in mind: shall I adopt this person/thing into the way I define the processes of life?
2. That the text tells us that men subjected God to a rather intense scrutiny and determined that He was "unworthy" of a place in the definitions of the workable processes of life is a very profound statement of a couple of things regarding man.
a. First, it reveals the workings of a "mind" that doesn't "work"...i.e. it makes it very clear that man's "mind" is willing to impose false standards of judgment upon the items he is "examining for their life-contributions". In any logical method of reasoning, the Creator of Life would automatically be granted the place of first priority in those things valued in respect to living life. But, man "dismissed" God as the Creator of Life. This is just another way of saying that man turned from the incorruptible God to the corruptible forms of idols.
b. Second, it displays the foolish arrogance of man who claims to be "wise" but is so blindly foolish that he cannot tell the difference between life and death. Even while man is dying by degrees in every way (physically, relationally, and spiritually) he cannot tell that his "methods of life" are actually methods of death that simply prolong his agony so that the death he is dying is extended in terms of both length of time and amount of pain. And, in the end, he dies...proving his methods didn't work. In Psalm 90 Moses said that man's life-expectancy in this body of flesh was 70 years. Now, three thousand, five hundred years later, man, with all of his sophisticated efforts of every kind still has the average life span of just over 70 years. This is merely a physical level illustration of the futility of man in his godless pursuit of "life". He is actually killing himself in his pursuit. So much for the sophistication of man in his blind rejection of God.
II. The word translated "knowledge" is also extremely illuminating. It includes the growth of "data" in a person's brain through "education", but it is far more than that. The word is used in the New Testament to refer to the kind of "knowing" that directly informs his life decisions. It is the kind of "knowing" that arises out of a clear value-system and a bold faith-system. Man does what he does in his pursuit of "life" because of what he values and what he believes will "work" in respect to his pursuit. [This can be as simple as going to college to get a degree in a chosen field so that field can become the source of the person's "life" in terms of "money"--this is a clear cut example of a dream being chased by "approved" methods].
A. Our text tells us pointedly that men "refused to approve God as a legitimate Source of Life-Knowledge".
B. The issue is not that this was an option of "life" [there are no "options" of life; there is only the Source of Life and His input into our experience]; the issue is that man does not "know" that he has no "options" and, consequently, "exercises his options" and abandons God.
C. The particular force of the term "knowledge" is that life is fundamentally relational and man has turned it into a fundamentally mechanistic process. In other words, life flows between the Life Giver and the Life receiver through the process of relating to each other in love, and man has turned "life" into the result of his manipulations of processes that have "relational" aspects only as "more parts to manipulate". So, we will continue to have the "ten steps to this" and the "twelve steps to that" and the "six steps to the other" as men crank out their books on how to manipulate so as to live. But, they do this under the curse of a "reprobate" mind. God has delivered man over to this and he functions with its obviousness showing.
III. What is a "Reprobate" Mind?
A. As we already pointed out, the adjective translated "reprobate" is directly linked to the verb "did not like/refused". The implications are profound...
1. In delivering man up to a "reprobate" mind, God actually turned man over to a reasoning process that is eminently "unreasonable". In other words, God turned man over to a "mind" that cannot "think straight". Man's "mind" is corrupted at the core and its processes break down all along the path of its "logic" because it cannot perform its God-designed task.
2. In delivering man up to this "unreasonable mind", God pretty much sealed man's doom. Unless there is a relenting on God's part, man's mind will take him down the meandering path to total destruction. That there is a relenting to some degree in some cases is the truth of the grace of God...He often does show mercy to the thoughtless and bring them to clear understanding so that they may participate in His life. However, the truth is that the vast majority are in bondage to a mentality that acts more like "passions of dishonor" than to a mentality that exalts a loving relationship with the Author of Life.
B. If man's "mind" were to be subjected to serious scrutiny, it would come out as "unapproved"...just like God turned out to be "unapproved" when man got through examining Him. The worm turned. Man examined God and disapproved Him, so God turned man over to the kind of "mind" that couldn't pass a test on "how to live" if there was only one easy question on it. Mentally, man cannot fight his way out of a wet tissue sack.
IV. And the Results?
A. Man does what is not "convenient/fitting"...
1. The word is very rare in the Scriptures.
2. It has the sense of a thing that does not "fit" the requirement of the situation.
B. Man does the exact opposite of what "life" requires.
1. He wants "life".
2. But he has defined "life" in terms of "processes" (servant values) that absolutely will not work [Note that everything in verses 29-32 are man's "processes" for the production of "life" and not a single one of them will serve the search for life with success].
3. Thus, he actively pursues those futile processes and dies by degrees until there is nothing left but Gehenna.